Lindenwood University Belleville news surprises many students
This story was originally published in the News-Democrat on August 14, 2005. It is being rerun in the wake of news that daytime programs at the Belleville, Illinois, campus will be moved to the St. Charles, MO, campus starting with the 2020-2021 academic year:
With plans to renovate downtown and the west end already in the works, city leaders plan to use Lindenwood University to revive the central part of town.
For the first time, the area along West Main Street from Sixth to 28th streets has its own name. It has been designated the city’s “College District,” according to Belleville Main Street Director Rick Ortiz.
“Belleville Main Street has labeled the region the College District in order to lend some sense of identity to the area that might have otherwise been considered on the way to some other destination,” Ortiz said. “It is our belief that the area has the potential to offer shops, restaurants and services to a growing campus and student body.”
City Economic Development Director and Planner Mike Malloy said he thinks the opening of Lindenwood’s Belleville campus is the most important thing that has happened to the city’s economy in the eight years he has been on the job. He expects the area around the school --- mostly empty storefronts --- soon to be populated with complementary businesses.
“The thing people will be looking back upon 20 years from now is bringing Lindenwood University to the old Belleville West campus,” Malloy said. “It has made a tremendous impact already. And it is really just in the beginning stages of development.”
The first two years it was in operation, the Belleville Lindenwood campus primarily catered to master’s degree-seeking students who attended classes at night so their school schedules didn’t interfere with their day jobs. But the campus now is offering day classes too.
When the Belleville campus opened for business in 2003, it had 595 students. In 2004, that number nearly quadrupled to 2,200, according to President Dennis Spellmann. He predicted that Lindenwood’s Belleville campus would have 4,000 students by January 2006.
In St. Charles, Mo., home of Lindenwood’s main campus, the area surrounding the school is full of restaurants, boutiques and book stores. Spellmann has said he wants to see the same kind of things --- plus a hotel --- come to the area surrounding the Belleville campus.
Already, some businesses designed to attract college students have popped up in the area.
The Pour Haus, a karaoke bar at the corner of West Main and 20th streets, opened a couple of weeks ago. Cleopatra’s Mediterranean restaurant and DS Squib’s Retro Emporium also have opened in the neighborhood with hopes of taking advantage of the area’s increased visibility.
“It is our belief that this area has the potential to offer shops, restaurants and services to a growing campus and student body,” Ortiz said. “And labeling the area is only the first step in trying to define the area in people’s minds, advertise a university that we are very excited about and attract shop owners to an area ripe for investment.”